Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quick Summaries of New Releases for April 2013

Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
of releases that cross our QBR desk. 
These are reviews for when you don't have all day 
to decide whether a resource is worth
your time, money, storage space, or trouble.

Dykas, Ellen, editor. Harvest USA. Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Relational Brokenness. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2012. 199 Pages. $17.99. www.newgrowthpress.com (LHP)

+ Intended more for a guided group study than an individual reflecting on her own, Sexual Sanity for Women is a resource from Harvest USA for women struggling with sexual identity, co-dependency, and sexual sin. Wisdom from God's Word is the main focus, yet author Ellen Dykas shares common sense (that isn't always common) and some guidance from sociology and psychology. So many resources about sexual sin focus on men. Women struggle with sexual sin and temptation, too. I've learned over the years that "Boys are gross and girls are complicated." This is a necessary resource in our day and age. I can see this as a very helpful resource for a pastor or deaconness in ministry to women. Recommended!

Richards, Larry. The Full Armor of God: Defending Your Life from Satan's Schemes. Minneapolis: Chosen, 2012. 186 Pages. Paper. $12.99. www.chosenbooks.com (LHPN)

- Demons exist. Christ is stronger. He and has authority over demons and His Christians do, too, in His Name. This title is QBR's second experience with the writings of Larry Richards. We like his informed, yet conversational tone.  We reviewed a six-volume fiction series of his, unfavorably from the Lutheran confession of the Christian faith. The same theological differences between us remain with regard to demonology and angelology. In I am troubled by the teachings and practices of the Deliverance Movement (cf. 102, 137, et al) particularly this insight from David Powlison: "Although the practice of exorcism has enjoyed popularity at various times and places in church history, the use of exorcism as a means of accomplishing sanctification — or creating conditions for successful evangelism — is a recent innovation." Well said! While there is much to appreciate in how winsomely Richards teaches Ephesians 6, I cannot give this book our recommendation.

Cannings, Paul. Making Your Vision a Reality: Proven Steps to Develop and Implement Your Church Vision Plan. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2013. 170 Pages. Paper. $12.99. www.kregel.com (N)

- Author Paul Cannings makes an effort to put the church growth fad of "vision" into a Biblical context. Often, Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) is used to justify the practice: "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." Many fall into this trap. Lutherans have been quick to point out that "revelation" or "God's Word" is what "vision" refers to in the verse, the very opposite of a man-made vision. I am not opposed to common sense. Good parking, lighting, and being friendly could help every Christian congregation. I take issue with most theologies of worship, because the focus on the Christian's response rather than God's action in Christ and the delivery of Christ's Gifts. (cf. 62ff). I have a problem with an overemphasis on what we do as Christians to grow the Church. Consider the words of C. Peter Wagner: "I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with the church-growth principles we've developed, or the evangelistic techniques we're using. Yet somehow they don't seem to work." (Ken Sidey, "Church Growth Fine Tunes Its Formulas," Christianity Today, June 24, 1991, p. 47). God gives the growth when the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies us Christians by means of Word and Sacrament. There very well might be a book out there that can help my guide my congregation to plan for its current and future mission and ministry, but this is not it.

Rogers, Michael Allen. Foreword by Bryan Chapell. What Happens After I Die? Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 288 Pages. Paper. $15.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)

+ There are so many books we have so little time. What Happens After I Die? is one of the best on death, heaven, and the Last Things that I have read. This is the resource to buy and read to counter all of the "what heaven is really like" books that seem to have become a cottage industry among those who claim to have had near-death experiences. Personal, informed, comforting, and Biblical, Rogers' book is a great resource for pastors, Christians, and hospice ministry. He is a Calvinist, so I was intrigued by his Appendix reference to Calvin and Luther: "Calvin has had four centuries of sweet heavenly fellowship with his fellow-reformer Martin Luther (and we assume they solved their dispute over the Lord's Table moments after meeting at the feet of Jesus" ( parentheses original, 268). Theology is always solved quickest when we hold to what Jesus said rather than what we think He meant. Ultimately, whether we die, or are alive, Christians are "in Christ" (201). Highly Recomended.

Miller, Thomas A., M.D. Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? A Surgeon-Scientist Examines the Evidence. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 176 Pages. Paper. $16.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)

+ Also commended to you for your education and edification is another Crossway title by Dr. Thomas Miller. The short answer to the title's question is, "Yes." It is relatively common for lawyers (cf. 116ff) to write books on apologetics (sometimes after beginning a project to "refute" Christianity). I loved reading this apologetic written by an M.D. Readers will appreciate the diagrams (e.g., 74) and the author's helpful clarification that "hand" in the ancient world also included the wrist (74). This book is not merely clinical or medical. The author presents the death and Resurrection of Christ for the reader's own forgiveness, life, and salvation (147ff, passim).

More information about each of these titles
may be found on each respective publisher's website. 

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pulpit Review: More Old Testament Resources

Bartelt, Andrew H. and Andrew E. Steinmann. Fundamental Biblical Hebrew/Fundamental Biblical Aramaic. St. Louis: Concordia, 2012 (2000, 2004). 378 Pages. Cloth. $62.99. https://www.cph.org/p-2918-fundamental-biblical-hebrew-and-aramaic.aspx (P)

Bartelt, Andrew H. and Andrew E. Steinmann. Workbook and Supplementary Exercises for Fundamental Biblical Hebrew and Fundamental Biblical Aramaic. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004 (2000, 2003). 294 Pages. Spiral. $24.99. https://www.cph.org/p-2921-fundamental-biblical-hebrew-and-aramaic-workbook.aspx (P)
Simonetti, Manlio and Marco Conti, editors. Thomas C. Oden, General Editor. Job (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament VI). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. 253 Pages. Cloth. $40.00. http://www.ivpress.com/ (P) 

Ferreiro, Alberto, editor. Thomas C. Oden, General Editor. The Twelve Prophets (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament XIV). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003. 366 Pages. Cloth. $40.00. http://www.ivpress.com/ (P) 

More high-powered and worthwhile resources for understanding the Old Testament are in store for you in this review.

First, we head to CPH for the fundamentals of Aramaic and Hebrew:

This new volume contains both fundamental biblical Hebrew and Aramaic.
The fundamental biblical Hebrew is organized in a manner that facilitates learning and serves as an easy-to-use reference tool, including vocabulary, morphology, and syntax. While it serves as a basic Hebrew textbook and grammar for the purpose of theological study, it is useful for college, university and seminary courses, as well as a desk reference for pastors engaged in the study of the Bible in its original language.
The Hebrew section also includes translation and reading exercises, a full set of verb paradigm charts (regular and irregular), and a Hebrew-to-English glossary.
The fundamental biblical Aramaic section follows the Hebrew text to enable undergraduate and seminary students, who possess a working knowledge of biblical Hebrew, a quick reading proficiency in biblical Aramaic. While it is not designed to introduce other Aramaic dialects, such as Old Aramaic, Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, Palmyrene or Nabatean, it is written so that the advanced student who wishes to pursue further study by exploring ancient Aramaic dialects may do so. To that end, from time to time, reference is made to the historical developments in ancient Aramaic. 
This grammar concentrates on biblical Aramaic, primarily emphasizing the grammatical features the student needs to understand in order to read. Its structure allows the student to finish the grammar and to progress on to reading the actual Biblical texts in a typical semester. All the exercises, with the exception of the beginning ones, are drawn from the Bible, exposing the student to actual biblical Aramaic while learning the grammar.

The exercises in this workbook reproduce the exercises in the chapters of Fundamental Biblical Hebrew. More space is provided for writing out the exercises. The chapter summaries from the textbook are included at the end of this workbook. In addition, at the end of each chapter's exercises are supplementary exercises. Two principles will be apparent to anyone using these supplementary exercises:
1) The supplementary exercises require students to reproduce basic Hebrew forms, including forms of weak verbs, as an aid to learning the basics of Hebrew morphology.
2) This workbook emphasizes reading actual Biblical Hebrew as an aid to learning syntax. The texts reproduced are exactly as they appear in the Hebrew books of the Old Testament.
(Publisher's Website)
I must admit being intimidated by returning to a rigorous study of the Biblical languages of the Old Testament scriptures. Perhaps you are, too. Our Winkel, in recent years, has had at least one Old Testament exegetical study a year. Yes, I did two of them. Recently, our congregation has done two long-term OT Sunday Morning Bible studies (Jesus in the Book of Isaiah, Judges). They have been good for me to help get my Hebrew skills back into shape.

I didn't have the benefit of Dr. Steinmann's excellent Aramaic grammar while I was at the Sem, but I do now. I loved my Aramaic class, even though it was rigorous, yet learned a lot by the last third of this volume. The first two thirds are the latest edition of Dr. Bartelt's Hebrew text. We got to test it at 801 in the late 1990's. I still have my original letter-sized version with spiral binding made by the seminary copy shop. I have yet to copy my notes over into this handsome new edition.

Vocabulary in both parts was chosen on the basis of frequency in the Biblical text. Hebrew consonant and vowel characters are readable, even without magnification. The companion workbook reproduces exercises from the text so that your hardcover can be used and reused as necessary.

I appreciate the opportunity this text gives me (and you) to revisit a seminary-given skill for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.

We mistakenly overlooked the following two ACCS titles during our main run of reviews on the series. We aim to correct this oversight now.

The book of Job presents its readers with a profound drama concerning innocent suffering. Such honest, forthright wrestling with evil and the silence of God has intrigued a wide range of readers, both religious and nonreligious.

Surprisingly, the earliest fathers showed little interest in the book of Job. Not until Origen in the early third century is there much evidence of any systematic treatment of the book, and most of Origen's treatment is known to us only from the catenae. More intense interest came at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth.

The excerpts in this collection focus on systematic treatment. Among Greek texts are those from Origen, Didymus the Blind, Julian the Arian, John Chrysostom, Hesychius of Jerusalem and Olympiodorus. Among Latin sources we find Julian of Eclanum, Philip the Priest and Gregory the Great. Among Syriac sources we find Ephrem the Syrian and Isho‘dad of Merv, some of whose work is made available here for the first time in English.

In store for readers of this volume is once again a great feast of wisdom from the ancient resources of the church.

Manlio Simonetti, a widely acknowledged expert in patristic biblical interpretation, teaches at the University of Rome and at the Augustinian Patristic Institute in Rome. He is the author of several books and Bible commentaries, including Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church: An Historical Introduction to Patristic Exegesis (T & T Clark).

Marco Conti (Ph.D., University of Leeds) is professor of medieval and humanistic Latin literature at the Ateneo Salesiano and lecturer in classical mythology and religions of the Roman Empire at the Richmond University in Rome.
(Publisher's Website)

I look to commentaries to help me find what I've missed in my exegetical study of a text. Sometimes, commentaries help when you are pressed for time. Preaching on Job 19:23-29 for a funeral? Gain the insights of Julian of Eclanum, Ephrem the Syrian, Chrystostom, and Gregory the Great to comfort those who mourn with our Resurrection hope in Christ (105-106).

Is wisdom reserved only for the old? Reconsider Elihu's speech  (32:1-14) as you encourage the young. Chrysostom says:
Why is it not said, But then, why did you not fight from the start together with us in order to defend God? He answers, I withdrew into my age, while I expected, he says, to hear you pronounce a beautiful and wonderful speech. Notice how he did not look fo rhonors, how he conceded them the first rank, how he showed that even then now he would not have spoken if they had not compelled him to do so (164).
When I write reviews of Study Bibles, I often zoom in on the Behemoth and Leviathan (40:15ff, 208). How do they handle it? Is it a myth? A hippo? At least the Fathers confessed it was a Dragon! Modern creation science holds it to be one, too, a dinosaur!

Our second ACCS volume covers the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament, minor in size, but not in stature or content.

"And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [the risen Jesus] interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk 24:27).

The church fathers mined the Old Testament throughout for prophetic utterances regarding the Messiah, but few books yielded as much messianic ore as the Twelve Prophets, sometimes known as the Minor Prophets, not because of their relative importance but because of the relative brevity of their writings.

Encouraged by the example of the New Testament writers themselves, the church fathers found numerous parallels between the Gospels and the prophetic books. Among the events foretold, they found not only the flight into Egypt after the nativity, the passion and resurrection of Christ, and the outpuoring of the Spirit at Pentecost, but also Judas's act of betrayal, the earthquake at Jesus' death and the rending of the temple veil. Detail upon detail brimmed with significance for Christian doctrine, including baptism and the Eucharist as well as the relation between the covenants.

In this rich and vital resource edited by Alberto Ferreiro you will find excerpts, some translated here into English for the first time, from more than thirty church fathers, ranging in time from Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (late first and early second centuries) to Gregory the Great, Braulio of Saragossa and Bede the Venerable (late sixth to early eighth centuries). Geographically the sources range from the great Cappadocians--Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa--John Chrysostom, Ephrem the Syrian and Hippolytus in the East to Ambrose, Augustine, Cyprian and Tertullian in the West and Origen, Cyril and Pachomius in Egypt.

Here is a treasure trove out of which Christians may bring riches both old and new in their understanding of these ancient texts.

Alberto Ferreiro is professor of history at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Washington.
(Publisher's Website)
I do not envy the task General Editor Thomas Oden assigned to Alberto Ferreiro. I pray his diligent, attentive, and far-ranging work on the Twelve Prophets will bring these books back to the importance they had in the estimation of the Fathersx (xvii).

Irenaeus shows the Christology in Hosea (1:1-3, 3). Gregory the Great (64) helps us better understand the two comings of Christ through Joel 2:1-11. Amos foresaw Christ. Read Cyril of Jerusalem on Amos 4:1-13, 96). With Ambrose, read Jonah 4 in the context of Redemption (148). Meditate on the Incarnate word with Theodoret of Cyr and Micah 5. Improve your preaching by reading good mini-sermons in The Twelve Prophets, part of Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture.

We believe we have one remaining title to review in the ACCS. We hope to receive, read, and review that title for you in the near future. In the meantime, God bless your study of the "older testament" in the original Hebrew and Aramaic with the insights of the Church Fathers and encouragement from the Lutheran Confessions.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

LHP Review: More Lutheran Classics

Walther, C. F. W. Matthew C. Harrison, editor. The Church and the Office of The Ministry. St. Louis: Concordia, 2012. 495 Pages. Cloth. $34.99. https://www.cph.org/p-20881-the-church-and-the-office-of-the-ministry.aspx (LHP)

Engelbrecht, Edward A., General Editor. The Church from  Age to Age: A History. St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. 976 Pages. Paper. $36.99. https://www.cph.org/p-18164-the-church-from-age-to-age-a-history-from-galilee-to-global-christianity.aspx (LHP)

Chemnitz, Martin. Ministry, Word, and Sacraments: An Enchiridion; The Lord's Supper; The Lord's Prayer (Chemnitz's Works 5). St. Louis: Concordia, 2007. (Previously published separately in 1981, 1979, 1999.) 574 Pages. Cloth. $69.99.  https://www.cph.org/p-676-chemnitzs-works-volume-5-enchiridionlords-supperlords-prayer.aspx (LHP) 

Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. 

That pithy piece of wisdom encouraged me to be a history major. I was always surprised by its truth. 

I am also similarly surprised when I re-read or read for the first time something I should have been taught before.

These three books deserve the title "classic." They are part of your Lutheran heritage. Now is the time to (re)discover them!

“The issue of church and office is too often a muddle among us, and Walther can be most helpful if he is allowed to speak with the precision he intended.”
Matthew C. Harrison
President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Matthew Harrison’s new edition of this seminal writing by the first president of the LCMS restores Walther’s precise language on the doctrines of church and ministry. As the subtitle of the original German edition states, The Church and The Office of The Ministry is “a collection of testimonies . . . from the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and from the private writings of orthodox teachers of the same.” Professional church workers and interested lay members will find a wealth of insights from the Bible, the Confessions, ancient church fathers, Luther, the orthodox Lutheran fathers, and more on the key questions of what or who is the Church, what is and who holds the Office of the Ministry, and what are the powers and duties of each.
This New Study Edition Includes
  • new reader-friendly updated translation
  • footnotes explaining terms and history
  • side notes highlighting texts from the Bible, Lutheran Confessions and Martin Luther
  • marginal references to Johann Gerhard
  • glossary of key German and Latin terms
  • appendices including supporting documents
  • Scriptural index
  • topical index
  • free downloadable data charts
  • editorial introductions from Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Purchase 10 or more copies of The Church and The Office of The Ministry for only $23.99 each.
Use promotional Code LWT on the checkout screen to receive your discount!

One of the most significant Lutheran theologians in North America, C. F. W. Walther (1811–87) dominated the theological landscape of the mid-1800s. A leader in the Saxon immigration to Missouri in 1839, Walther helped to found the college that would become Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, as well as to organize The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In addition to serving as a pastor, Walther was the synod’s first president and the president of the seminary and its leading teacher. A prolific author, Walther wrote on a variety of topics, corresponded with numerous religious leaders, edited the theological journal Der Lutheraner, and helped start Concordia Publishing House.
During the 20th century, the ecumenical movement made the doctrine of the church one of the most discussed issues of its day. Today, this controversy still exists with congregations exploring the boundaries of what it means to define the church. C.F.W. Walther's classic study of The Church and The Office of The Ministry provides biblically-based answers to these questions facing congregations today.

Become a subscriber to Walther's Works and SAVE 30%
Now you can subscribe to Walther’s Works and receive each volume at a 30% savings off list price. (Volumes are priced differently, so discounted prices will vary.) Your subscription starts with the newest volume (you will need to order previously released volumes separately), and you will continue to receive each new volume upon its release. In addition, subscribers may purchase previously released volumes at the same 30 % discount.
CLICK HERE for more information
Become a subscriber to Fathers of the Lutheran Church Program and SAVE EVEN MORE!
Luther, Gerhard, Walther: Three Programs. One Subscription.
Through the Fathers of the Lutheran Church Subscription Program, the newest volumes of Luther’s Works, Johann Gerhard’s Theological Commonplaces, and Walther’s Works are shipped to you automatically—and you receive a 30% savings off list price plus FREE shipping.
CLICK HERE for more information

(Publisher's Website)
I re-read this title in kindle form during two winter plane trips to the St. Louis area. I was most familiar with the previous translation under a blue cover. The seminary did well to teach me about that edition's deficiencies. In fact, at least one "Ph.D" has eviscerated this edition because of what I believe to be a preference for the mistranslations of Walther, rather than his scholarly knowledge of Walther's original German.

I love the appendices that put Walther's theses and text in context, including the Altenburg Theses, the infamous Hirtenbrief, and writings by Loehe.

I had hoped that The Church and The Office of the Ministry would get a cover more like the volumes of the Essential Lutheran Library, but I will be satisfied (for now) with a more accurate translation of the title. Might I respectfully request similar editions of Walther's Proper Form and True Visible Church?

Our next title is a library of history books under one cover!

The Church from Age to Age examines key historic events from the time of the apostles through today. Informative and clearly written, readers of all ages will find the answers to the who, why, and how behind the current state of Christianity the world over. Maps, readings from primary sources, and an extensive bibliography, index, and timeline make this a complete one-volume resource for the classroom and for home.
Take a look inside CLICK HERE!
Also Available in Amazon-Kindle format.
Foreword by Paul L. Maier, PhD
 Contributors include: 
 •  Dr. Robert G. Clouse is professor emeritus of history at Indiana State University. He was a founding member of the Conference on Faith and History, served on the editorial board of the Brethren Encyclopedia, and was a contributing editor of the New Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.
•  Dr. Karl H. Dannenfeldt † served as professor of history at Arizona State University, the American editor of Archiv f ür Reformationsgeschichte, a committee member for the American Society of Church History, and president and officer for the American Society of Reformation Research.
•  Edward A. Engelbrecht (STM) is senior editor for professional and academic books at Concordia Publishing House and general editor for The Lutheran Study Bible (2009), which is currently being translated into Spanish and Portuguese.
•  Dr. Marianka S. Fousek is an independent historian who served as a professor at Miami University and other schools. She also served as a council member for the American Society of Church History.
•  Walter Oetting † (MA) served as professor of Church history at Concordia Seminary. He died young, just after completing his book for the Church in History series, which was reissued in 1992 due to its continuing interest as an introductory text.
•  Dr. K. Detlev Schulz is associate professor and chairman for the department of pastoral ministry and mission at Concordia Theological Seminary, serves as the PhD supervisor of the missiology program, and is dean of the graduate school.  He grew up in Africa, studied in Europe and the United States, and served as a missionary in Botswana.
•  Dr. Roy A. Suelflow † served as a missionary in China, Japan, and Taiwan. He also served as a seminary professor and mission director in East Asia. He later taught church history at Concordia Seminary and served as associate editor for the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly.
•  Dr. Carl A. Volz † served as professor of church history at Luther Seminary and as an editor for Dialog: A Journal of  Theology. In 1997, the American Academy of Parish Clergy selected his book, The Medieval Church, as one of the ten best books of that year.
(Publisher's Website)
As I mentioned before I was a history major at university. (To be most precise, I was a double major in Mathematics and History (B.A.) with a minor in Asian Studies.) Why was I, a Missouri Synod Lutheran, ignorant of the previous editions of the contents of this book? I wish I would have had this edition to better survive my Christ-less Western Civ class with a Communist T.A. and a professor who looked like Santa Clause but used George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" in class.

I am thankful for this volume's Christian worldview and the excellent Foreword by Paul Maier. Every LCMS church and school should have a copy of this history. Give a copy to your pastor for Pastor Appreciation month this fall.

My only complaint? I wish it had a hardcover rather than a paperback. Perhaps that may help increase sales of the kindle version.

Few books have influenced my pastoral theology and practice more than those collected together under this hard cover.

Martin Chemnitz (the “Second Martin”) is credited with solidifying and defining the Reformation movement begun by Martin Luther (the “First Martin”). Chemnitz was a major contributor to the Formula of Concord and is considered to be one of the greatest Lutheran theologians of all time.

This volume of Chemnitz’s Works contains three writings of this 16th-century professor, pastor, and church superintendent. It provides the opportunity to learn firsthand from this systematic and pastoral theologian. 

Ministry, Word, and Sacraments: the Enchiridion
This is a translation of Chemnitz's ‘little book’ for pastors. It covers the Call into the Ministry, the Word and Sacraments, ceremonies of the church, and the conduct of ministers.

Includes Index and end notes.
The Lord’s Supper
This is an English translation of De coena Domini, Chemnitz's defense of the real presence of Christ's body and blood together with the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper.

Arguing from Scripture and fortifying his presentation with many citations from the ancient church fathers, Chemnitz explains that the real presence does not entail a crass, cannibalistic eating, but a sacramental eating of Christ’s true body and blood. Chemnitz maintains that the Words of Institution are the last will and testament of the Son of God and are therefore to be taken literally and understood with the utmost seriousness.

Figurative interpretations of the Words should be avoided because they are bound to be uncertain, and they rob the Christian of the comfort furnished by Christ's body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of sins.

The Lord's Prayer
God Commands us to pray, and twice in the New Testament, Jesus gives us the pattern for prayer in the Our Father.

In this work, whose full title is A Substantial and Godly Exposition of the Prayer Commonly Call the Lord's Prayer, Chemnitz unpacks the richness of each petition of the Lord's Prayer: how many words to use, what things to ask for, and in what order to ask for them. He offers a fresh and inspiring interpretation based on the biblical texts. The English translation of this work was originally published in 1598 by the University of Cambridge in England at a time when theologians were becoming increasingly aware of the power of the press. This edition, updated to modern English by Georg Williams, makes Chemnitz's timeless exposition available to today's readers.
Also available as an eBook (ePub)
(Publisher's Website)
I own the separately-published versions of the three titles now compiled under this one cloth hard cover.  

Enchiridion was dear to me for two reasons related to my wife. In high school, her Lutheran theology and practice of baptism was attacked. Her pastor shared the contents of Question 243 (116ff) with her in the form of a tract. It helped her grow as a Christian apologist and has inspired me as well. Second, she has an ancestor that got a grade of "adequate" on the basis of a similar Visitation in the 1580's. I am encouraged that the current LCMS Blue Ribbon Task Force on Districts is placing more emphasis on pastoral care, visitation of pastors, church workers, congregations, and schools, than the size and shape of LCMS Districts. This title could give the LCMS guidance as it moves forward by embracing its past faithful practice. How about Circuit Visitors instead of Circuit Counselors. I am thankful to have a copy for home and a copy for my study (this version)
The Lord's Supper was a required text for my class with the same name with Dr. Nagel. I remember fondly how pages 91ff helped me survive the exegetical challenge of the four accounts of the Words of Institution.
The Lord's Prayer was newly-released while I was at seminary. I remember at the time that when I bought it, it was the most I had ever spent on a paperback book. I am relieved to now have it in more permanent hardback form. Back in Lent 2001, my first as a pastor in the parish, I made regular use of this volume as part of a midweek Lenten sermon series on the Lord's Prayer. That's been some time ago, and my memory at times plays tricks on me. I had remembered, FOR CERTAIN, that Chemnitz was the fellow who taught that the last three petitions of the Our Father prayed against the devil in the past, the present, and the future. I was SURE that was the case. Surprise! When I re-read this part of Volume 5 of Chemnitz' Works for the purpose of this review, I discovered that this idea was my summary of what Chemnitz said in the book. Oh, well. I still hold it to be true. And perhaps I'm not really the original source of such a great idea!
These three Concordia volumes are the ideal "Yes" when our book review posts ask, "Is it worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach?" Expand your knowledge and comprehension of pastoral, historical, and doctrinal theology with these titles. Look for them at a Pastoral Conference CPH bookstore near you.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

LHP Review: Old Testament Resources

Wenham, Gordon. The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 205 Pages. Paper. $15.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)

Webb, Barry G. The Book of Judges (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012. 555 Pages. Cloth. $50.00. www.eerdmans.com (P)

Franke, John R., editor. Thomas C. Oden, General Editor. Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament IV). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005. 458 Pages. Cloth. $40.00. http://www.ivpress.com/ (P)

Our focus is the Old Testament in this review with titles from IVP, Eerdmans, and Crossway.

Though frequently used in times of crisis or pain, the book of Psalms is often misread or misunderstood, seeming like a disorganized jumble of prayer, praise, and lament. To help readers get more out of the Psalms, renowned Old Testament scholar Gordon Wenham highlights its foundational place for all Christian worship and spiritual formation. This compilation of eight lectures delivered between 1997 and 2010 teaches the practices of singing, reading, and praying the Psalms, paying special attention to the Psalter’s canonical structure, messianic focus, and ethical goal. In drawing on his extensive academic and scholarly experience, Wenham has crafted a guide for discovering afresh the manifold wonders of this beautiful and surprisingly complex portion of the Bible.

Gordon Wenham (PhD, University of London) studied theology at the universities of Cambridge, London, and Harvard, taught Old Testament at Belfast and Gloucestershire Universities, and is now adjunct professor at Trinity College, Bristol. He has also authored a number of critically acclaimed Bible commentaries and books.
(Publisher's Website)
I like this brief volume as a re-introduction to many readers on "Praying and Praising with the Psalms." I appreciated references to St. Bernard and Martin Luther. The author does exceptionally well when he urges use (and re-introduction where necessary) of Psalms in public and private Christian worship.

I disagree with the author's stance on re-written hymn texts (24-25, 104-105) and was exceptionally disappointed by the author's denial that Psalm 51:5 has anything to do with original sin (76).

Our second volume focuses exclusively on the book of Judges.

Eminently readable, exegetically thorough, and written in an emotionally warm style that flows from his keen sensitivity to the text, Barry Webb's commentary on Judges is just what is needed to properly engage a dynamic, narrative work like the book of Judges. It discusses not only unique features of the stories themselves but also such issues as the violent nature of Judges, how women are portrayed in it, and how it relates to the Christian gospel of the New Testament.

Webb concentrates throughout on what the biblical text itself throws into prominence, giving space to background issues only when they cast significant light on the foreground. For those who want more, the footnotes and bibliography provide helpful guidance. The end result is a welcome resource for interpreting one of the most challenging books in the Old Testament.

Read Judges and Misogyny, a blog post by Webb about the book.

Barry G. Webb is senior research fellow emeritus in Old Testament at Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia, where he taught for thirty-three years. Among his other published works are The Book of the Judges: An Integrated Reading and Five Festal Garments: Christian Reflections on the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther.
(Publisher's Website)
I appreciate the context provided by the author as he presents the individual verses of the Biblical text of Judges. His exegesis is largely sound and quite usable by Lutheran pastors at Bible Class.

I do not care for the introduction or the seratim historical critical take on numbers of people throughout the commentary. At this point, The Lutheran Study Bible remains my commentary of choice for the book of Judges, at least until Judges appears as a volume in Concordia Commentary.

As a whole, Old Testament Volume IV of Ancient Christian Commentary may be a better use of limited funds if pastors need a commentary on Joshua, Judges, Ruth, or 1-2 Samuel.

The history of the entry into the Promised Land followed by that of the period of the judges and early monarchy may not appear to readers today as a source for expounding the Christian faith. But the church fathers readily found parallels, or types, in the narrative that illumined the New Testament. An obvious link was the similarity in name between Joshua, Moses' successor, and Jesus--indeed, in Greek both names are identical. Thus Joshua was consistently interpreted as a type of Christ. So too was Samuel. David was recognized as an ancestor of Jesus, and parallels between their two lives were readily explored. And Ruth, in ready fashion, was seen as a type of the church.

Among the most important sources for commentary on these books are the homilies of Origen, most of which are known to us through the Latin translations of Rufinus and Jerome. Only two running commentaries exist--one from Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the famous Cappadocian theologians, the other from Bede the Venerable.

Another key source for the selections found here derives from question-and-answer format, such as Questions on the Heptateuch from Augustine, Questions on the Octateuch from Theodoret of Cyr and Thirty Questions on 1 Samuel from Bede. The remainder of materials come from a wide variety of occasional and doctrinal writings, which make mention of the biblical texts to support the arguments.
Readers will find a rich treasure trove of ancient wisdom, some appearing here for the first time in English translation, that speaks with eloquence and challenging spiritual insight to the church today.

Related Information & Resources

Read the general introduction to the series. And for even more information, visit the Ancient Christian Commentary website!

Download an essay by J. Robert Wright on the significance of the art used on the covers of the Ancient Christian Commentaries.

Join the Ancient Christian Commentary Series to save 50% on every volume!

John R. Franke (D. Phil., Oxford) is associate professor of theology at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. With Stanley J. Grenz, he is coauthor of Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context.
(Publisher's Website)
These books only occasionally show up in the lectionary, but they do a couple of times in Year C. I am thankful for a multi-book resource like this ACCS commentary to help me out on those occasions.

Ruth 1: 1-19 shows up this year on October 13 (Proper 23C). Turn to 181-184 and keep your congregation's focus on Ruth as an ancestor to Christ, prefiguring the Christian Church, and better explain Naomi's new name.

2 Samuel 11:26–12:10, 13-14 (Proper 6C) is read this June 16. Share the impressive and unique insights of the David, Uriah, Bathsheba, and Nathan story from Augustine, Gregory the Great, Chrysostom, and lesser-known Church Fathers with your congregation. The way they retell the story may add "ancient" freshness to your preaching in the 21st century.

Pastors, do you regularly study an Old Testament Bible book verse-by-verse with your congregation? I'm currently in the middle of one on Judges and consider it a book for our time. Studying the Old Testament is a great way to increase and promote Biblical literacy among those entrusted to your care. And we have a great opportunity to frame all of salvation history in Christ!

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.